Switzerland Votes to Criminalize Transphobia and Homophobia

Swiss National Council ChamberPhoto: Wikipedia

Law would impose the toughest penalties in the world for discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

By Mila Madison

The Swiss National Council voted 118 to 60, with 5 abstentions to change their penal code, a move that would make it illegal to discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Those who violate the law could be sentenced up to three years in prison. The move puts gender identity and sexual orientation in line with protections against discrimination based on racial, ethnic or religious affiliation.

“Victory!” said National Councilor Mathias Reynard via Twitter in response to the vote. “By 118 against 60 and 5 abstentions, the National Council accepts my parliamentary initiative against homophobia and Transphobia! A great success for human rights!” Reynard, who put forward the motion, has fought for half a decade to bring the law to a vote.

The motion now needs to be passed by the Council of States before it can officially become law.

The news is being praised by Swiss LGBTQ+ organizations, who had been disappointed by the country’s recent decline in the rankings of the International Association of LGBTI People.

"The decision of the day is an important step,” Rene Schegg, secretary general of Pink Cross, told Le Temps. “It will likely bring Switzerland back to the rankings of the International Association of LGBTI People, where our country currently ranks 22nd behind Estonia and Hungary.”

Mathias says he now wants to turn his focus towards marriage equality. In Switzerland, same-sex marriage is still illegal and affects the legal standing of LGBTQ+ couples in the areas of adoption, fertility rights, welfare, and taxes.

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